Aesthetics, Sourdough Baking and Felt Time
Felt rhythms are a feature of almost any humanly composed form of time — the temporal patterning of work is an obvious example, as is the shape of music (Langer 1953). We refer felt time to a pragmatist aesthetics view. This approach to aesthetics is strongly influenced by Dewey’s pragmatism, in which aesthetics is equally a fulfilling, entire experience (Dewey 1980 (1934)). It starts with felt experience which tries to encapsulate a person’s full relationship — sensory, emotional, and intellectual — with her physical and social environment. It is committed to our need for sensing the meaningfulness and wholeness of our actions from which a sense of self emerges, develops, and transforms.
According to Langer (1953) the experience of time is not only that of a length or interval between selected moments, it has volume. This volume is filled with fluctuating tensions — physical, emotional or intellectual — which make it exist for us. She describes the elements of music as sounding forms of time. As we listen to the sound of time through music, our imaginations are provoked and our bodies entranced. We can find ourselves moving in time, somehow imagining we are being moved in adherence to the sounding temporal forms. Thus, the temporal experience in music is not easily measured or interpreted by logical, practical or scientific formulations (such as, clock-time), but rather in terms of movement, sensibilities, tensions and emotions (Langer 1953; Unander-Scharin et al 2014).
Felt time may also be considered as the basic-level dynamics of interactions among the human senses, emotions, and time (Shusterman 2012). Through his Somaesthetics philosophy, Richard Shusterman promotes bodily awareness in everyday life. He reminds us that all human experiences and interactions with the world are performed through our bodies. We emphasize that our aesthetic responses are motivated by our individual real experiences, thoughts, cultural background and emotional feelings. We consider aesthetics to emerge from the holistic, embodied experience that cannot be treated separately, as some kind of complementary component to others [Akner Koler 2007; Lim et al 2015; Höök 2018; Petersen et al 2004; Dewey 1980 (1934); Langer 1953; McCarthy & Wright 2004; Haptica 2018).
Sourdough baking does not belong to the traditional philosophical feature of knowing that produces “timeless truths” (Heldke in Curtin & Heldke 1992) and neither does interaction design. However, both practices are concerned with the changeable. Practical, lower activities involve us in the physical, temporal world in ways we cannot ignore while “objects of genuine knowledge escape the ravages of time; they exist today, tomorrow, and yesterday.” This can be connected to the present-day attitudes toward time in food preparation (as displayed by advertising, by cookbooks, by conversations at the coffee table) that emphasize the value of ease, speed, and efficiency (Heldke in Curtin & Heldke 1992).